Today's Chicago Woman: Special Valentine's Luncheon Honors Mothers and Daughters

Special Valentine's Luncheon
by Christine Garcia of Play Dates and Power Lunches

Published on Today's Chicago Woman on February 2, 2012.

CHICAGO -  Just when you think you've "been there, done that," think again. So says Leona Martin a mother of four. "I have four kids aged 34, 32, 23 and 16. And you wouldn't believe how much has changed even between the 16 and 23 year old." Ms. Martin says that with the technology, social media and additional peer pressures that teens are faced with today, she wanted to be well-prepared.

She got some help when she was introduced to the Metro Achievement Center for Girls, which helps instill self-worth, academic skills and work habits in Chicago girls from 4th-12th grade. Leona Martin and her 16-year-old daughter Zoe have been going to the center for three years.

This year is extra special. The center is honoring 200 moms and daughters with a Valentine's Day-themed party called "Stronger Role Models Than Pop Culture."

Metro Achievement Center focuses on moms and daughters throughout Chicago's underserved communities. Leona Martin is very proud to be honored this year with Zoe. "This event is a chance to express how you feel to your child. Zoe often says, ‘I'm really glad we came because I like this day.'" Ms. Martin enjoys it just as much. The festivities are from 2-4:30PM on Saturday, February 18th, and feature guest speakers who will talk about the value of mother/daughter relationships and the importance of finding quality time to write each other love letters, which will be shared over a fancy lunch.

Daughters are encouraged to discuss how moms can be a much greater influence in their lives than the celebrities and models in magazines and on television.

Metro Achievement Center is celebrating its 12th consecutive year of 100 percent high school graduation and college enrollment; Metro offers one-on-one tutoring programs for 4th-6th graders, high school prep for 7th and 8th graders, and a college readiness program for high school students. Enrollment is open to students from low-income families across the Chicago area.

Having four daughters myself, I asked Ms. Martin, "Why now?" She couldn't emphasize enough how much parenting has changed and that she regrets not knowing about a group like Metro Achievement Center while raising her two older daughters and son. Zoe and her mother have a special relationship thanks to Metro Achievement Center; Ms. Martin says she has learned a lot with mom support groups led by experts who teach moms how to handle tough situations you might not ever discuss with your daughter. "We talk about taking computers out of bedrooms and bringing them into the open to avoid negative situations, and how to handle social media and other peer pressures that teens are faced with in today's society," she explains.

Ms. Martin adds that while she is close with her adult-aged children, she and Zoe have found something that has enhanced their relationship and she hopes that other moms can gain such benefits. I asked her for some advice for raising my own daughters, and she reminded me that what works for one, doesn't work for all. But it's worth looking into!

Happy Valentine's Day. And congratulations to the moms and daughters being honored.